Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 06/09/14

Game Sixty-One – Cubs (25-35) vs. Pirates (29-33)

  • Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
  • Coverage – TV: WCIU – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 184, 844
  • Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Edwin Jackson (4-5, 4.59/1.46/3.53) vs. Charlie Morton (2-7, 3.31/1.28/4.03)

The Cubs begin a very challenging three-city, 10-game road trip tonight with the first of four with the Pirates. The Cubs stay in Pennsylvania and will spend the weekend in Philadelphia taking on Ryne Sandberg’s Phillies. The trip concludes next Wednesday with the last of three in Miami.

Pittsburgh enters play tonight just three games ahead of the Cubs for fourth place in the NL Central. The Pirates have not played up to expectations and Neal Huntington is getting a lot of heat to call-up their top prospect, Gregory Polanco.

The Cubs have won two of the first six games (2-4) against the Pirates this season and have a chance to climb out of the cellar over the next four games … and put a dent into their road win-loss record (10-21).

After tonight’s matchup of Edwin Jackson and Charlie Morton, Travis Wood and Francisco Liriano are scheduled for Tuesday night. Jason Hammel is expected to face Brandon Cumpton on Wednesday with Jeff Samardzija and Edinson Volquez set to go in the finale on Thursday night.

The road trip all starts with Edwin Jackson …

Edwin Jackson is coming off a rough start against the Mets. Jackson might have picked up a victory but he pitched poorly and combined with Daisuke Matsuzaka, the starting pitching that night closely resembled pitching performances seen in the lower level of the minor leagues. Jackson lasted five innings and gave up four runs, one earned, on five hits with five walks and four strikeouts.

Jackson has been very consistent over his last five starts. Jackson has had one bad outing then one good outing for nearly a month. If he stays true to form, the Cubs could receive a good game from Jackson tonight.

The road has not been very kind to Edwin Jackson this season. Jackson is 1-4 in six starts outside of Wrigley Field with a 6.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP and will make his third start of the year against the Pirates.

The Pirates had their way with Jackson in his first two starts of the year. Edwin Jackson has two no decisions but allowed eight runs, seven earned, on 11 hits with eight walks and nine strikeouts in 10 innings (6.30 ERA, 1.90 WHIP). For his career, Jackson is 6-2 in 12 starts against the Pirates with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP … at PNC Park, 1-2 in six starts with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.

Pirates Career Numbers against Edwin Jackson

Charlie Morton has struggled with his command of late. Morton has walked a lot of batters (11) in his last three starts and the free passes have shortened his outings. Morton beat the Padres his last time out after allowing two runs on three hits in five innings. Morton struck out nine batters and walked three.

Charlie Morton has been very good at home this year. Morton is 1-3 in six starts at PNC with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Morton faces the Cubs for the second time this season. In his first two games, Morton has two no decisions while holding the Cubs to five runs on 12 hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts in 12 innings (3.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP). Morton is 2-4 in 11 career starts against the Cubs with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Charlie Morton

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Tonight’s lineup:

    Bonifacio 2B
    Lake CF
    Rizzo 1B
    Castro SS
    Valbuena 3B
    Schierholtz RF
    Coghlan LF
    Baker C
    Jackson P

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Three up, three down for the Cubs on 7 pitches in the first inning

  • BigJonLilJon

    Nice bunt by Valbuena against the shift though

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Not getting the good Jackson tonight. Renteria should really make him wear one for the team. The bullpen is getting used too much.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Throwing a lot of pitches and getting hit hard

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Yes and yes. The bullpen needs at least six from him tonight.

        • BigJonLilJon

          At least. But Jackson can handle the high pitch count so maybe we get 6

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            At least he went six innings.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Look at these stats:

    Castro: .267 BA, .310 OBP, .432 slug
    Valbuena: .272 BA, .385 OBP, .437 slug

    Valbuena having a career year. Castro only a little better than last year.
    Castro 9 June 2013= .243 BA, .283 OBP, .339 slug

    • Tony_H

      That’s only a little better?

      2013 OPS 622
      2014 OPS 742

      • BigJonLilJon

        Match up only stats for Valbuena this year making the difference, I still say.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Check his splits: only 20 AB vs LHP, but hitting .250 vs LHP.

          • BigJonLilJon

            That surprises me. I still day he’s been put in good opportunities though. Lol

      • Ripsnorter1

        Not hitting .300 is a disappointment to me. Not having .800 OPS is disappointing so far.

        • Tony_H

          It is still a noticeable improvement, but yeah 300/800 should be his norms, just not yet this year.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Not going to disagree with the numbers but….. I lean towards thinking Valbuena’s numbers are swayed by the matchups he’s been given

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I think Valbuena has been pretty good and he seems to improve each year. With his versatility he can be a valuable player in the future.

      I don’t think its out of the realm of possibility that he can eventually hit .280 or .290. Maybe 2016…probably not in Chicago.

      • BigJonLilJon

        Not in this realm!! I think he can be a decent bench guy who can field multiple positions as a lefty bat. I’m not sure he can hold his current avg by years end

        • Tony_H

          If he just starts against RH’s, it is possible, but I wouldn’t run to Vegas with that bet.

          • BigJonLilJon

            I definitely won’t be!!!!

      • Ripsnorter1

        I think they trade Valbuena at the deadline this year.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Agreed. I think he’ll be helpful to a contending team.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    They need to figure out what to do with Olt. Rising te bench isn’t doing him any good. But it’s a tough spot. Villanueva is already there, and Olt and Bryant both should probably be at AAA.

    Time to look at a position change for someone. I’m by no means ready to give up on Olt. His power is unique and in he has gone long against righties and lefties. He needs to play everyday somewhere.

    I’d like to see Bryant start playin outfield. He and Kalish could be the future at the corners with Almora eventually in CF.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Can’t say your wrong. Olt will be fine, just needs to play every day. But Bryant has earned a promotion too. Tough call

    • Tony_H

      I think you will see some juggling as Bryant will be going to Iowa and Villanueva should go back to Tennessee.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Olt hit .152 in 2012 for Texas, and is hitting .153 now for the Cubs.
      Meanwhile in 2013 he hit .201 in AAA.

      What do you mean “he’ll be fine?” I think he’s telling you he has contact issues. 55 K’s in 137 AB. That’s 40% K rate. He’ll never hit .220 at that rate. He’s a big power bat that strikes out a ton. He’s not a ML player at this point, unless the Cubs don’t mind a .153 or less hitter playing 3B for them.

      He is 25 now–will be 26 in August. It’s time to go down to AAA and send Villaneuva down to AA and let Bryant take a few swings in AAA.

      • BigJonLilJon

        He still had the vision problems at AAA for Texas, so those numbers shouldn’t weigh much. But, the rest I can agree on

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        He barely stayed at MLB in 2012. And 2013 was a lost year. He roughed it out but probably shouldn’t have even been on the field. I don’t even look at his stats from that season to rate him at all.

        He showed glimpses this year after struggling mightily out of the gate. Take out that first month and he’d be over .200. He dug a huge hole at the beginning. He hit 9 HR in severely limited action this year. I playing everyday he would likely break te Cubs rookie record. I’ll take that power and work out the rest.

        • daverj

          The problem with Olt is that he can’t seem to hit off speed pitches. He can pound fastballs with the best of them, but that’s not enough at the major league level. I think he needs to work out these problems in the minors where there is less pressure to perform.

          That all said, I think there’s a good chance that if handled properly, he will eventually become a .240-.250, 25 HR guy with a great glove.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I heard that critiscm but I also saw him crank a few curveballs out of the ballpark. Not sure if that is as big of an issue as it was early. Overall just learning to hit professional pitchers at the MLB level is the deal. Changing speeds, locations, the whole deal.

    • John_CC

      Someone should move to either 1B or LF, and I think it should Olt. I want to see Bryant at 3B, and I just don’t believe in Olt. I don’t know about Villanueva either, isn’t he the best defensive 3Bman in the system?

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Villianueva did well at AA but is having trouble adjusting. Wouldn’t write him off either because yes he plays stellar defense.

        Rizzo has 1st base on lock for the next decade. That is one position we don’t need to fill. Would move Bryant to corner outfield. As a 3rd baseman I assume he has an arm and we know he’s an athlete. Maybe he could play right field.

        • John_CC

          I know Rizzo isn’t going anywhere, but some things gotta give, all these guys aren’t going to make it and be Cubs together.

          The Cubs are stockpiling bats in order to trade for pitchers.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I agree. That’s why they’ve been staying true to their board in drafts and getting the BPA. Some of these bats are going to be sent for pitching. I heard analysis during the draft that said in a year or two the Cubs will be in the opposite position and they’ll have the young inventory to trade for a proven big leaguer. That’s why the totality of what the FO is doing is good and so much of it is lost on people. We’re going to have the ammo to make deals when the time comes.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Preferably left field. Right can be crazy hard to play in Wrigley.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            True. I think of the current inventory Bryant would be a better fit in LF with Kalish in RF.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Castro with a RBI double

  • daverj

    I have a question unrelated to the game tonight. Any thoughts on why the Cubs front office has been stating that Schwarber was #2 on their draft list when he hasn’t signed yet?

    At first I thought the Cubs must have agreed to a salary number with him before the draft so it didn’t matter, but if that was the case I would think he would have signed by now. I would think the front office’s statements would drive his price up. What am I missing?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      The signing should be announced soon. He’s in Chicago, presumably taking a physical.

    • JimBo_C

      If I remember last year correctly, they followed a tact where they announced multiple signings on the same day.

    • John_CC

      Didnt Bryant not sign till July last year?

      • Ripsnorter1

        I think on the last day possible, if I remember correctly.

        But this guy was draft way over slot to save money and speed the signing process. He’ll sign quickly.

  • GaryLeeT

    Bryant with #22. This is getting almost silly by leaving him there in AA

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      As soon as the all-star game happens they’ll have to make some decisions. Imagine the entire deck will be reshuffled.

      • GaryLeeT

        Doesn’t seem like a player destined for the Majors in the very near future, would have a AA All-Star game on his bucket list.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Unless I am missing something, Bryant now leads all of baseball (majors and minors) in home runs this season. Granted its Double-A, but still

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Castro with a solo homer

    • Tony_H

      That’s a blast to hit one out to that part of the field.

  • Tom U

    In the interesting development department, Logan Watkins is getting his first ever professional start at first base for Iowa tonight.

    • Tony_H

      How many gloves does he bring to the park anymore?

      • Tom U

        The only positions he hasn’t played for Iowa this season are pitcher and catcher.

        • Tony_H

          They should let him at least pitch for all he has done.

          I would assume they are grooming him to be a super utility guy.

          • Tom U

            Be careful what you wish for. They did that a few years ago with Jonathan Mota and blew out his elbow.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs lost 6-2 to Pirates on Monday night … Edwin Jackson: 4R, 7H, 2BB, 8K, 6IP (95 pitches, 65 strikes)

    Starlin Castro: 3-4, HR, 2B, 2RBI; Anthony Rizzo: 1-4, R; Nate Schierholtz:
    1-4, 2B